Meet the witty and wonderful Susannah Hardy
Releasing your debut novel must be daunting, narrating the audio version must be even scarier. But this month's victim, Susannah Hardy, has done both.
Susannah and I are both members of an online writing group, Scribblers Ink, which is part of a private Facebook group called Not So Solitary Scribes https://www.facebook.com/groups/440978250141020 The other week I said to her that I don't know many authors who have been asked to narrate their own stories. She puts it down to her background working as an actor.
After studying French & theatre at UNSW, Susannah ran off to Paris to study under Philippe Gaulier, who is a world famous French master clown and professor of theatre. You may well recognise Susannah from her roles on Blue Heelers, Packed to the Rafters and even a Nurofen commercial!
A regular features writer for a wide range of print and digital publications, for eight years she melded her love of writing and home interiors writing for Country Home Ideas and Modern Home and I must say I share Susannah's love of both, and think this would be a dream job.
But it was Susannah's passion for contemporary women's fiction that saw her start to chase her dream of becoming a novelist. One of her stories was shortlisted in the 2019 Australian Writers Centre Furious Fiction Short Story Competition, before being picked up by publisher Pan Macmillan.
I loved this book. Lizzie's voice was so clear to me from the opening pages. I had such a sharp vision of her in my mind. Susannah's dry wit comes through in spades in this wonderful debut. I actually messaged a friend Elena to say 'You HAVE to read this book. It reminds me so much of your writing style. Fast paced. Quick wit. Has me laughing out loud.'
The good news is that Susannah is currently working on her second manuscript which, after reading her debut, I cannot wait to read.
So without further ado, I will hand you over to Susannah.xx
Q1: What piece of advice do you wish you'd been given when working on your very first manuscript?
A: It’s really important to show your work to someone at some point to get a bit of constructive criticism. I had no problem doing this but I wish I’d been advised about taking care when choosing that person. I showed some early pages to someone who wasn’t really into the genre and the feedback put me off completely. So much so, I tossed it into the ‘bin’. But eventually, I re-found my inspiration, retrieved my words and pushed on.
Q2: If you could have written ANY book besides your own, what would it be?
A: I wish I wrote any series by Enid Blyton – Famous Five, Malory Towers, Twins at St Clare’s, The Magic Faraway Tree. I grew up on Enid Blyton and as a child, couldn’t believe that someone was able write with such imagination. I always wished I could write like she did – and the amount of books she wrote. Apart from that, I wish I wrote the Harry Potter series – another boarding school story, but a school for witches and wizards – brilliant!
'I don’t really have a set writing space. Most of the time, I work from the kitchen table. However I do have a desk in our bedroom where I can escape to when everyone is home. I try to keep it tidy but as you can see, life has been pretty busy lately! We’re in the process of renovating and while I still won’t get my own study, I will have a study nook under the stairs, so looking forward to that. (Since taking this photo, I have actually done a bit of a tidy up, but I have to say, it hasn’t made much of a difference!)'
Q3: What is the first book that made you cry?
A: It was definitely Charlotte’s Web - but funnily enough, it was when Wilbur the pig arrived and was alone with no friends, quite near the beginning. I think the reason why I cried was because my paperback version had a drawing of the pig crying and it was just too much for my nine year-old self.
Q4: What is your favourite drink? Coffee, tea, wine or…
A: I get up pretty early and I love to have a cup of tea first thing. English breakfast, strong, quite milky. Then mid morning, I have my flat white. During the evening, I love a glass (or two) of red wine (French pinots at the moment). However in summer, I do like an aperitif, either gin & tonic, or a glass of rose or sauv blanc.
Q5: What is the next book on your TBR (to be read) pile?
A: I have a massive TBR pile on my bedside table. Currently I’m reading How to mend a Broken Heart by Rachael Johns https://www.harpercollins.com.au/9781489276827/how-to-mend-a-broken-heart/
Next is Magpie’s Bend by Maya Linnell https://www.allenandunwin.com/browse/books/fiction/popular-fiction/Magpies-Bend-Maya-Linnell-9781760877330
Then I have The Dictionary of Lost Words by Pip Williams (already started) https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/648116/the-dictionary-of-lost-words-by-pip-williams/ , Tipping by Anna George https://www.penguin.com.au/books/tipping-9781760897789 and Bridge Burning and other hobbies https://www.allenandunwin.com/browse/books/general-books/humour-gift/Bridge-Burning-and-Other-Hobbies-Kitty-Flanagan-9781760877477 by Kitty Flanagan. (Yes, it was my birthday a few weeks ago, so I’m all stocked up!)
Another book I can’t wait to get stuck into is Fleabag – The Scriptures by Phoebe Waller-Bridge https://www.hachette.com.au/phoebe-waller-bridge/fleabag-the-scriptures-the-sunday-times-bestseller It’s the script from the TV series, which I loved! (Christmas present that I haven’t got to yet)
(Wow and I thought my tbr pile was overflowing! Shelley.xx)
'This is a photo from our wedding day. Best Day Ever! I particularly love this shot as it’s so casual, like we’re in our own world. It also shows the stairs leading up to the chapel - we got married in the Navy Chapel at Garden Island, a naval base in Sydney. My Dad is a retired officer from the Navy and worked there for a lot of his career.'
(What a beautiful photo...totally lost in the moment. Shelley.xx)
Q6: Choose one male & one female character from your novel. In a film adaptation, who would you love to see play them?
A: My central character, Lizzie needs to be played by an actress who is very funny, good with comedy, gorgeous and charming. She can be hard to like sometimes so it’s important the actress can get the audience onside. I imagine someone like Isla Fisher or even Blake Lively.
Dr Mitch is a lovely character and I see him being played by someone who is funny, appealing, good-looking but quirky. I imagine an actor like a younger version of Paul Rudd or Luke Wilson.
Q7: Name one thing you couldn't live without?
A: I absolutely love exercise, particularly running. Which sounds boring but it really makes me happy. Apart from the fitness aspect, I find running extremely meditative and always find my best ideas for my writing. If I ever come across a plot issue I go for a run and sort it out. Or I talk through my story out loud as I run – people probably think I’m a bit mad but it really helps me with my plotline!
'My mother was a potter https://www.instagram.com/potsbyliz/ and all her work is beautiful. I particularly love this keep cup, which was part of her latest range of domestic ware. I’ve always had an endless supply of pots, however sadly I lost my mum just six weeks ago.
My family is very close and it came as a real shock for us. Normally if any of the pots I had got a chip in them, Mum would demand I throw it out immediately and would then replace it - but now I’m holding on to every piece, every piece is so special.'
(I looked at your mum's Instagram page and she was so talented. What wonderful treasures you have to remember her by. Shelley.xx)
Q8: What is your dream holiday destination?
A: Naturally, I love to go anywhere that has a balmy tropical beach – but I have to say my favourite place to go is Paris. I speak French, plus I’ve been many times and have also lived and studied there. Whenever I arrive in Paris, I immediately feel like I’m home.
Q9: If you had to choose a career besides writer, what would it be?
A: Originally I was an actor, way before I became a writer. So besides being a writing, I would want to be working full time as an actor.
Q10: What's the hardest scene you have ever written and why was it so hard?
A: I have to say the hardest scene I’ve had to write was my very first sex scene – it’s all very well having great sex, but writing about it is another thing altogether! I had to send it to my go-to writing buddy and say, “Is this sexy or not?”
'A funny and poignant debut novel about one woman's over-enthusiastic search for Mr Right.
Life is not going to plan for failed fashion designer Lizzie March, until she finds herself pregnant to super-hot bad boy Jake Wheeler.
Convinced that he's The One, now all she has to do is make him realise that she is The One too!
But is it possible she’s been looking for love in all the wrong places? Maybe everything she has ever wanted is right under her very own stilettos.'
Thank you Susannah for being my July 15th Author Stalker victim. xx
Loving Lizzie March is available through bookstores and online.
If you would like to find out more about Susannah, you can find her here: